Hard drive data recovery: Possible to get a reasonable price for it?
June 11, 2007 7:05 PM   Subscribe

Hard drive data recovery: Possible to get a reasonable price for it?

A couple years ago, I lost access to an internal hard drive (not the boot drive) when it started making clicking sounds. I removed it and set it aside. It has some personal data on it, and I'd like to recover it.

Problem is that every place I've talked to wants a lot of money to do it (at least $1,000). Moreover, they can't promise me it won't cost a LOT more. And once they've opened it up, that's it -- either I pay whatever it costs, or I get nothing back (including the hard drive itself).

Can anybody point me to someone who can do it for less than a thousand, and who is not totally unreliable?

It's an IBM Deskstar, 41GB, ATA/IDE, 7200 rpm, nothing fancy. Product code is IC35L040AVER07-0, if that makes any difference.
posted by mikeand1 to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Personally I'd checkout Spinrite. Nothing better for the price.
posted by TheDukeofLancaster at 7:26 PM on June 11, 2007


I've personally salvaged a small bit of important data from an old clicking-sound-of-death dead drive via the freezing technique. If you've lived without the data for a couple of years and are unwilling to pay big money for someone to take it apart, perhaps its worth a try?
posted by maniactown at 7:29 PM on June 11, 2007


You could try datarecoverybc.com who claim that most jobs cost $500. I haven't tried them personally but I've noted them mentioned previously in several similar threads.

Definite seconds for Spinrite and the freezing technique though.
posted by sockpup at 7:49 PM on June 11, 2007


Woops. I screwed up the link: datarecoverybc.com.
posted by sockpup at 8:09 PM on June 11, 2007


Freezing drives only helps when the problem is that the drive doesn't spin.... freezing the drive will make the bearings shrink a bit and give the drive a better chance of spinning up. You can have the same effect on some drives by finding the little spot on the bottom of the drive where you can use a hairpin or some other similar thin bit of metal to manually spin the platters a few times and free up the stuck bearings...

Does the drive spin under power? If so, freezing does no good.

Data recovery can be hard, and a complex process. I only know Linux tools... You can add the drive as a secondary drive on an otherwise working machine. Then there are tools like dd_rescue that you an use to perform a raw copy of the data from the old drive to the new drive. The only benefit of dd_rescue is that is does not fail on read errors...

You can copy the data, ignoring read errors, and then you run the normal filesystem repair tools to try and recover as much data as possible.

Besides swapping out parts to try and repair a fried controller board, you're stuck with how much you're willing to pay to try and recover the data.
posted by zengargoyle at 8:13 PM on June 11, 2007


You could try soliciting $5000 in donations on your blog to help.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 8:40 PM on June 11, 2007


"Can anybody point me to someone who can do it for less than a thousand, and who is not totally unreliable?"

I can't guarantee you that it'll cost under $1,000 (though it most likely will be), but I have personal experience with DriveSavers.

I have unfortunately needed to use them several times to recover the hard drives of laptop users at work. They were very professional and very fast each time. The folks who work there are friendly, and good about status updates. In other words, they are totally reliable. Heck, look at their client list.

It's a lot of money, but in my opinion, this is something that's worth it. If some random data recovery company screws it up or can't get the info, now you've wasted that money (they all have an "attempt fee") plus you have to pay someone else to fix it. And if the first guys screw it up really badly, then it's all over.

(I'm not affiliated with them, by the way, but they did mail nifty keychains to me and my boss.)
posted by CrayDrygu at 8:55 PM on June 11, 2007


Put it in the freezer overnight. Plug in in straight out of the icebox, you'll have ~1-3 hours to move your data. (usually)
posted by TomMelee at 9:29 PM on June 11, 2007


Our PC Repair shop refers people to Seagate Data Recovery. The prices quoted range from $600 - $1400, and if they can't get any data back you don't pay. They work on all makes and models of drives.

The reason it costs so much to recover data from these drives is alot of places need "clean rooms" in order to rebuild drives. This is a very expensive cost, so it's all what your data is worth to you.
posted by ilikebike at 10:31 PM on June 11, 2007


See if you can find the same exact same drive and swap the circuit boards. That's a common way to get a drive up and copyable.
posted by rhizome at 10:51 PM on June 11, 2007


IXNAY ON THE PINRITESAY!!!!

SpinRite is absolutely NOT recommended for data recovery. If anything, it can cause potentially more damage than it seeks to repair.

Read this post by respected data recovery expert, Scott Moulton for the real truth behind the Spinrite hype.
posted by melorama at 4:50 AM on June 12, 2007


I'd also strongly recommend watching the ToorCon video presentations on Scott Moulton's site if you want to learn how you can avoid spending thousands of dollars in data recovery services (provided of course that you're not afraid of taking apart delicate mechanical parts, building your own tools and performing electronic assembly)
posted by melorama at 4:54 AM on June 12, 2007


Gillware.com = $380 for Windows recoveries, and they also handle mac, raid arrays, etc. No fee if they can't recover data (!)

Sent them about eight drives now, and they salvaged them all. Can't recommend them highly enough, they've been awesome.
posted by bhance at 6:16 AM on June 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


spinrite definitely has its issues, but it did save a laptop hard drive that crashed last weekend and made me my gf's hero for the day. as the article referenced above says - if you're not going to do anything else, you might as well try it.

of course, i was sweating bullets when halfway through its run a huge thunderstorm came up... i'm pretty sure that spinrite + power failure = baaaad
posted by noloveforned at 7:45 AM on June 12, 2007


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